THE ART OF LIVING
moon9 we could then receive its benefits both at night and day.
Again, we see some very good sense in his advice on women's dress:
The important thing about women's dress is not fineness of material but neatness^ not gorgeous beauty but elegance, not that it agrees with her family standing but that it agrees with her face. ... If you take a dress and let several women try it on in succession, you will see that it agrees with some and not with others, because the complexion must harmonize with the dress. If a wealthy lady's face does not agree with rich patterns but agrees with simple colours, and she should insist on having rich patterns, would not her dress be the enemy of her face? . . . Generally, one whose complexion is white and soft and whose figure is light and round wiU be shown to advantage in any dress. Light colours will show her whiteness but deep colours will still better show her whiteness. Dresses of fine material will show her delicacy but dresses of coarse material will still better show her delicacy* » . * But how few women are of this type? The average woman must choose her dress, and must not take any kind of material. . . .
When I was young, I remember the young girls used to wear shades of pink, and the older women used to wear mauve, and later scarlet was changed for pink, and blue was substituted for mauve, and still later scarlet gave place to purple and blue gave place to green. After the change of the dynasty [beginning of Manchu regime], both green and purple disappeared^ and both young and old women changed into black.
Then Li Liweng went on to discuss the great virtue of black^ his favourite colour: how it fitted all complexions and all ages, and how among the poor it enabled them to wear a dress longer without showing dirt, and how among the rich they could wear beautiful colours underneath, so that when the wind blews the beautiful colours would be revealed underneath* leaving a great deal to the imagination.